Hartlepool music venue The Studio set to close unless buyer comes forward

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A POPULAR town music venue will close at the end of this year unless a buyer comes forward after leaseholders were forced to pull out.

The Studio, in Tower Street, Hartlepool, is up for sale and trustees say a number of parties have already shown an interest.

But unless a deal goes through before December, The Studio will close at the end of the year after Hartlepool College of Further Education and Cleveland College of Art and Design gave notice on the lease.

College bosses said they have been forced to withdraw their support due to the “harsh economic climate”.

The two facilities saved the popular venue from the brink of collapse just two years ago when The Studio fell into voluntary liquidation.

Phil Swinburne, chairman of The Studio’s trustees, said: “Obviously all of the trustees are really disappointed, we’re gutted.

“We thought this was a long-term thing, but that’s not going to happen now.

“It’s had to go up for sale because the trustees just can’t fund it.

“We have been doing it for the last five years, but it’s just not possible to maintain.”

Both colleges have worked with trustees to develop The Studio into a venue for students to use during the day and for it to continue to be used as a popular nightspot to showcase local talent.

College chiefs say the evening events have proved a success, but plans to build the daytime trade have not materialised.

Michael Bretherick, principal and chief executive of Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “This is simply a business decision; we cannot keep financing a venue that doesn’t cover its costs.

“It is unfortunate for the students that did use the venue, but the numbers were not sufficient.

“Our construction students used the refurbishment of the venue as an aid in their studies while gaining practical experience.

“I do hope a buyer can be found as we have invested time, money and our resources into making The Studio an attractive venue for future events.”

Martin Raby, Cleveland College of Art and Design’s principal, added: “We listened when our students told us that they wanted a student union venue, but the reality is that many of them choose not to use it, this is for many reasons.

“It is not reasonable to cover The Studio’s losses with money that should be spent on education; therefore after consultation with our partner we found this to be the only viable option.

“We hope that the trustees of The Studio are able to find an alternative partner to keep this venue open for the community.”

The Studio, which has been used as a music venue for the last 15 years, employs one paid member of staff.

The Studio charity, originally set up on the Headland in 1981 as a recording studio and way of supporting creative residents in the town, will continue even if the Tower Street venue doesn’t get bought before the end of the year.

Phil, 45, who lives in the Rossmere area of town, added: “In my opinion The Studio is the best thing to happen in Hartlepool since the Rink, this is why it’s so hard to let go.

“I would love for someone to buy it, it’s a fantastic venue, a brilliant place.”

Businesses or individuals interested in buying The Studio should contact commercial estate agent Greig Cavey.